Fly Fishing

Piscifun fly fishing reels


First Published in Harper's Magazine - April 1885

To acquire a proper back cast - throwing the line behind preparatory to the forward cast - usually gives the beginner the most trouble. He can not see behind him, and though he fully appreciates that his forward cast is a botch, he can not locate the difficulty, and knows neither to what it is due nor how it is to be overcome. Here the eyes of his friend supplement those of the caster. Each effort to improve is appraised; the successful is distinguished from the unsuccessful attempt, the one condemned, the other approved, until, in a very short time and with very little trouble, a habit of casting is formed which is not only efficient, but at the same time easy and graceful.

Therefore I say again, and with the more emphasis, since I believe I stand alone in this recommendation, practice this art with a companion, and alternately at brief intervals let each coach the other. Let the coach make some comment on every cast made, as, for example, "Your back cast was too low," "Your line did not straighten out behind," "Your forward cast was too quick," "Keep your body still," "There! that back cast was all right - try to repeat it," etc., etc., remembering to approve the good as well as condemn the bad, for the very object in view is to inform the caster what to cultivate, as well as what to avoid.

The coach taking his stand abreast of and on the right of the caster, and at such a distance as conveniently to observe every motion, let the latter withdraw from the reel line equal to about one and a half times the length of the rod. The thumb of his casting hand must not be closed upon its fingers, but be extended, and bear upon the rod itself. Now throw the tip of the rod upward and behind a little, but only a little, beyond the perpendicular.

This illustration, from a photograph, shows the extreme limit of the motion of the rod on the back cast, a limit by no means to be exceeded.

The casting elbow is to be held quite close to the side, and the fore-arm should not be raised beyond an angle of forty-five degrees with the horizon. The wrist, however, is to take a further upward bend, for from the action of this joint should the impulse of the cast be almost exclusively derived. Many most excellent anglers extend the arm just at the finish of the cast. But it seems to me to serve no useful purpose not otherwise readily obtainable, and to look labored and awkward.